Assorted Jewels

Words are like leaves And where they most abound Much fruit and sense beneath is rarely found. He that uses many words for explaining any subject, doth, like the cuttlefish, hide himself in his own ink. These days the greater part of whitewashing is done with ink. Many a glib talker has a lot of depth on the surface but way down deep is very shallow. Many a writer seems to think he is never profound except when he can't understand his own meaning. He writes quickly, with the fluency of the artist who has nothing whatsoever to say. Some of the new books are so down to earth they ought to be ploughed under. What an author doesn't know usually fills a book. You should read it, though there is much that is skipworthy. It was a book to kill time, for those who like it better dead. The ordinary man would rather read the life of the cruelest pirate that ever lived than the wisest philosopher. There are two common ways to avoid thinking: one is to never read, and the other is to do nothing but read. If words were invented to conceal thought, newspapers are a great improvement on a bad invention. The dictionary is like a Bible to the unenlightened writer. In old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody.

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The reason so few good books are written is that so few people who can write know anything. People do not deserve to have good writing, they are so pleased with bad. A pin has as much head as some authors, and a good deal more point. "Oh I see" said the Earl "but my own idea is that these things are as piffle before the wind." . . . but to give an account of that subject would need a far less brilliant pen than mine. Two sorts of writers possess genius: those who think, and those who cause others to think. There is much to be said in favour of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community. Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse. The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable, and literature is not read. Literature is an occupation in which you have to prove your talent to people who have none. I quite admit that modern novels have many good points. All I insist on is that, as a class, they are quite unreadable. I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, but found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. Charles Darwin It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information. The success of many books is due to the affinity between the mediocrity of the author's ideas and those of the public. The road to ignorance is paved with good editions.

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There is no worse robber than a bad book. The multitude of books is making us ignorant. Literature is mostly about having sex, and not much about having babies; life is the other way around. Always read between the lies. An editor is one who separates the wheat from the chaff and prints the chaff. He who wields a pen is in a state of war. An author's first duty is to let down his country. What is one's country but a land to stop one's feet from getting wet? Writing is one of the few professions left where you take all the responsibility for what you do. It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous. I go on writing for the same reason that a hen goes on laying eggs. Action is greater than writing. A good man is a nobler object of contemplation than a great author. There are but two things worth living for: to do what is worthy of being written; and to write what is worthy of being read; and the greater of these is the doing. Being a writer is an aphrodisiac for women, for plain, intelligent women, but not all that intelligent. For more than forty years I have been speaking prose without knowing it. Some books are undeservedly forgotten, none are undeservedly remembered. Anybody who doesn't like this book is healthy. Wit sometimes enables us to act rudely with impunity. Wit helps to play the fool with more confidence. He was a master of paradox, but more often its slave.

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Few of the many wise apothegms which have been uttered have prevented a single foolish action. It is more trouble to make a maxim that it is to do right. When a thought is too weak to be expressed simply, it is a proof that it should be rejected. He is a benefactor of mankind who contracts the great rules of life into short sentences, that may be easily impressed on the memory, and so recur habitually to the mind. But words are things; and a small drop of ink, Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think. Pithy sentences are like the sharp nails which force truth upon our memory. Some sentences release their poisons only after years. The study of proverbs may be more instructive and comprehensive than the most elaborate scheme of philosophy. Proverbs: the sanctuary of intuitions. Proverbs are the flowers of the rhetoric of a vulgar man. The wise make proverbs . . . and fools repeat them. There's nothing so lively as a deadly epigram. Epigrams succeed where epics fail. Epigrams cover a multitude of sins. You can cram a truth into an epigram, the truth, never. Aphorisms prick with the sharp point of truth, but usually with the sting removed. A powerful idea communicates some of its power to the man who contradicts it. The more you say, the less people remember. Think much, speak little, and write less.

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You can remove all the words from a brilliant thought. We have been able to have fine poetry in England because the people do not read it, and consequently do not influence it. To write prose, one must have something to say; but he who has nothing to say can still make verses and rhymes, where one word suggests the other, and at last something comes out which in fact is nothing but looks as if it were something. Goethe If you find writing prose too boring you can always convert to poetry by starting each sentence with a capital letter, and making each paragraph a stanza, with each line ending on the margin except the last one. Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand. A poet is a person who simply cannot keep his confusion to himself. The pearl is the disease of the oyster A poem is a disease of the spirit Caused by the irritation Of a granule of truth Fallen into that soft grey bivalve We call the mind. Show me a poet and I'll show you a shit. All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. A poet looks at the world as a man looks at a woman. I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree. Music is the brandy of the damned. Music is the refuge of souls ulcerated by happiness. Music is essentially useless. A great fondness for music is a mark of great weakness, great vacuity of mind: not of hardness of heart; not of vice; not of downright folly; but of a want of capacity, or inclination or sober thought. We ought to have books teaching us not how to compose music but how to decompose it. The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you are an artist.

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How inimitably graceful children are in general before they learn to dance. No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did he would cease to be an artist. To reveal art and conceal the artist, is art's aim. To be natural is to be obvious. To be obvious is to be inartistic. Art is to protect us from truth. Of all lies, art is the least untrue. It is a gratification to me to know that I am ignorant of art. Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you've got it made. At one time I thought he wanted to be an actor. He had certain qualifications, including no money and a total lack of responsibility. Actors are no better than creatures set upon tables . . . to make faces and produce laughter, like dancing dogs. The girl who has half a mind to become an actress doesn't realize that that's what it requires. For he who lives more lives than one, more deaths than one must die. A learned man is an idler who kills time by study. He not only overflowed with learning, he stood in the slop. There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but no philosophers. The philosopher who will not take the trouble to make himself clear shows only that he thinks his thoughts of no more than academic value. Mediocre men often have the most acquired knowledge. If I had read as much as other men, I should know no more than they. Everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching. The scholar labours meticulously for years on end to produce his masterpiece - which the thinker destroys with a single sentence.

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I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly. A child miseducated is a child lost. It is less painful to learn in youth than to be ignorant in age. One impulse of vernal wood May teach you more of man, Of moral evil and of good, Than all the sages can. - Wordsworth, The Tables Turned You can lead high school graduates to University, but you can't make them think. Anyone who has ever been to school will always feel comparatively at home in prison. Very few can be trusted with an education. Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. Never let your studies interfere with your education. We do not know what education could do for us, because we have never tried it. Education is what remains when we have forgotten all that we have been taught. The average PhD thesis is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to another. The college graduate is presented with a sheepskin to cover his intellectual nakedness. I'm prepared for all emergencies but totally unprepared for everyday life. Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated. Zeal without knowledge is fire without light. Knowledge and timber should not be much used until they be seasoned. "The more articulate, the less said" is an old Chinese proverb which I just made up myself.

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The prime purpose of eloquence is to keep other people from speaking. If you think before you speak, the other fellow gets his joke in first. Clarity is so clearly one of the attributes of truth that very often it passes for truth. A thing is not necessarily true because badly uttered, nor false because spoken magnificently. False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil. We use ideas merely to justify our evil, and speech merely to conceal our ideas. Language is sometimes used to conceal thought, but never in a domestic quarrel. A man never becomes an orator if he has anything to say. It is a good answer that knows when to stop. Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude and good company. Letters such as are written by wise men are, of all the words of men, in my judgment the best. - Francis Bacon I have received no more than one or two letters in my life that were worth the postage. Henry David Thoreau (1817-62) Conversation is the art of telling people more than you know. The average value of conversation could be enormously improved by the constant use of four simple words "I don't know". If every man were straightforward in his opinions, there would be no conversation. Blessed are they who have nothing to say, and who cannot be persuaded to say it.

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Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it. No one really listens to anyone else, and if you try it for a while you'll see why. Everybody lies, but it doesn't matter since nobody listens. Why can't somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks but nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks? The reason people talk so much, is because if they didn't, their brains might start to work. There is nothing so pedantic as pretending not to be pedantic. . . . He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met. Almost everything that is publicly said these days is recorded. Almost nothing of what is said is worth remembering. I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I preach to. One of the disadvantages of wine is that it makes a man mistake words for thoughts. One's eyes are what one is; one's mouth is what one becomes. Talk is not always cheap. Talk as if you were making your will: the fewer words the less litigation. The only successful substitute for brains is silence. Silence is the wisdom of the fool. To make a noise is to be found out. Remain silent and others suspect that you are ignorant; talk and you remove all doubt of it. To one who knows the Truth, a moment's silence is a lifetime's wisdom. A wise man's question contains half the answer.

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The ignorant are aware of many mysteries and understand everything else, whereas the wise are aware of one mystery and understand nothing else. Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters Suffering in order that they may have existence. In this world the wiser one is the more one suffers . . . obviously humans must have a low tolerance for suffering. Some peoples thoughts are so shallow they don't even reach their heads. To a little fish, the waters are always deep. Intelligence tests really do indicate those who have brains. Those who have don't take them. What screens on television is an insult to the intelligence, but many never realize it. Think before you think! Nature didn't make us perfect so she did the next best thing. She made us blind to our faults. Where logic sees contradiction, reason often sees none. If ignorance is bliss then a lot of people are going to die of joy. As scarce as the truth is, the supply is much greater than the demand. Help fight truth decay. Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believed. "That must be wonderful! I don't understand it at all." The ignorance of most people gives one a rough sense of the infinite. Nothing is impossible for anyone impervious to reason. His ignorance covered the whole earth like a blanket and there was hardly a hole in it anywhere. Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. The real problem is not whether machines think but whether people do.

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Machines should work. People should think. Things even up. Ignorance causes fear in one man, but courage in another. A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on. Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of the wise. The ultimate effect of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise. Time alone relieves the foolish from sorrow, but reason relieves the wise. Most fools think they are only ignorant. If a fool keeps the the company of the wise, even all is life, he will perceive the truth as little as a spoon perceives the taste of soup. Rotten wood cannot be carved. The fool wonders, the wise man asks. You can fool too many of the people too much of the time. Wise men learn more from fools than fools from wise men. You can't depend on anyone to be wrong all the time. Even a fool must now and then be right by chance, just as a broken clock is correct twice a day. Fools and wise men are equally harmless. It is the half-fools and the halfwise that are dangerous. A fool and his guilt are soon parted. A wise man can look ridiculous in the company of fools.

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Fishermen, in order to handle eels securely, first cover them with dirt. In like manner does detraction strive to grasp excellence. The praise of a fool is more harmful than his blame. The proverb says that Providence protects children and idiots. This is really true. I know it because I have tested it. The reason there's so much ignorance is that those who have it are so eager to share it. There is no such thing as an underestimate of average intelligence. The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group. The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing. Ignorance is a virtue, when it is ignorance of art and love. There is not enough darkness in the whole world to extinguish the light of a small candle. Truth is the most sublime, the most simple, the most difficult, and the most natural of all things. A vocabulary of truth and simplicity will be of service throughout life. The truth is so simple that it is regarded as pretentious banality. When drunk, men often say sensible things which sound foolish to them when sober. Truth exists for the wise; beauty for the feeling heart. When a man knows Truth he has no need of mirrors because he sees himself perfectly at all times. When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago. Every man wherever he goes is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day. All habits gather, by unseen degrees, as brooks run to rivers, rivers run to seas.

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To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be. Habits are at first cobwebs; at last cables. Habit is often mistaken for loyalty. Motto: contented with little, yet wishing for more. Be contented, when you have got all you want. It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be a Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. I have the simplest of tastes. I am always satisfied with the best. Nothing succeeds like excess. Moderation is for monks. Take care to get what you like, or you will end by liking what you get. If you're not rejected at least three times a week you're not really trying. It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees. Better dead than mellow. Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once. If you won't be better tomorrow than you were today, then what do you need tomorrow for? If some people lived up to their ideals they would be stooping. What we earnestly aspire to be, that in some sense we are. A man's worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions. If a man hasn't discovered something he would die for, he isn't fit to live. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Avoid criticism - say, do and be nothing. Morons have no enemies.

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The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear. Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think. Your character is built by what you stand for, your reputation by what you fall for. Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. The meek shall inherit the earth -- they are too weak to refuse. When the meek inherit the earth they cease being meek. When no wind blows even the weathervane has character. The Devil himself is good when he is pleased. The man who has never been tempted doesn't know how dishonest he is. The strongest man in the world is the man who stands alone. Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself. When we ask advice we are usually looking for an accomplice. A good scare is worth more to a man than good advice. We live in a most unselfish era where hardly anyone is egotist enough to wish to do their own thinking. If we meet no gods, it is because we harbour none. As soon as you can say what you think, and not what some other person has thought for you, you are on the way to being a remarkable man. If you are not a thinking man, to what purpose are you a man at all? He that loses his conscience has nothing left that is worth keeping. The only true dignity of man is his capacity to despise himself. My life is so habitualised I don't even know who I am anymore.

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Life is a gift of the immortal gods, but living well is the gift of philosophy. Debating with a priest is like being savaged by a dead sheep. He is a sheep in sheep's clothing. To create man was a fine and original idea; but to add the sheep was a tautology. Do not needlessly endanger your lives until I give you the signal. The first among the flock is still a sheep. Man is ready to die for an idea, provided that idea is not quite clear to him. Only dead fish swim with the stream. What if a man is buried alive from time to time? For every such person there are a hundred dead men walking the earth. He's a man of great common sense and good taste - meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage. Society is the process in which everyone fights all battles except the one that should be fought. The length of life ought to be measured by the number and importance of our ideas and not by the number of our days. By this standard, some people have never been born. I know of very few individuals who deserve to live. Some people are alive simply because it's against the law to kill them. The toughest time . . . in anyone's life . . . is when you have to kill a loved one just because they're the devil. - Emo Phillips Fame is proof that people are gullible. "Be yourself" is the worst advice you can give some people. All that I care to know is that a man is a human being - that is enough for me; he can't be any worse. Be different, act normal.

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Real life isn't like this. It is a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake. To think ill of mankind, and not wish ill to them, is perhaps the highest wisdom and virtue. Of two evils, choose neither. Goodness without wisdom always accomplishes evil. Virtue is more to be feared than vice because it is not subject to the regulation of conscience. Active Evil is better than Passive Good. What men call good fellowship is commonly but the Virtue of pigs in a litter which lie close together to keep each other warm. Every man's happiness is built on the unhappiness of others. Charity creates a multitude of sins. Nothing costs so much as what is given us. To become a religion it is only necessary for a superstition to enslave a philosophy. Religions are what dreams are made of. The masses are the opium of religion. Man is quite insane. He wouldn't know how to create a maggot and he creates Gods by the dozen. If there were a God, he would regard atheism to be less of an insult than religion. All Gods were immortal. I sometimes hope that I am wrong and God does exist, so that when I die I can tell him to his face what a fool he is. There is not enough religion in the world even to destroy the world's religions.

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No sooner had Jesus knocked over the dragon of superstition than Paul boldly set it on its legs again in the name of Jesus. I must believe in Apostolic succession, there being no other way of accounting for the descent of the Pope from Judas Iscariot. The greatest act of faith is when a man decides that he is not God. For many, faith is a suitable substitute for knowledge, as death is for a difficult life. There exists no politician in India daring enough to attempt to explain to the masses that cows can be eaten. I don't believe in God because I don't believe in Mother Goose. It is the final proof of God's omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us. The only excuse for God is that He doesn't exist. In religion we believe only what we do not understand, except in the instance of an intelligible doctrine that contradicts an incomprehensible one. In that case we believe the former as part of the latter. Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. Christian humility is preached by the clergy, but practiced only by the lower classes. Scratch the Christian and you find the pagan, spoiled. The vows taken by a Catholic priest make him unable to conceive children. They also make him unable to conceive the Truth. The Christian lives in a nightmare and thinks it is a pleasant dream. Reason is, of all things in the world, the most hurtful to a reasoning human being. God only allows it to remain with those he intends to damn, and his goodness takes it away from those he intends to save or render useful in the Church . . . If reason had any part in religion, what then would become of faith? To the philosophic eye, the vices of the clergy are far less dangerous than their virtues.

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One religion is as true as another. The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next. We're all going down the same road in different directions. We must accept the other fellows religion . . . to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful. To be an apologist for religious values one must enjoy the aroma of stagnant water. To be an apologist for enlightened values one must become a part of the turbulent rapids of causality. A man without a religion is like a fish without a bicycle. The fellow who argues that all religions should unite probably doesn't speak to his brother-in-law. All religions die of but one disease, that of being found out. A theologian is like a blind man in a dark room searching for a black cat which isn't there - and finding it! It's a happy bishop who hasn't got a saint in his diocese. It is no accident that the symbol of a bishop is a crook, and the sign of an archbishop is a double-cross. So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the gospels in praise of intelligence. Beware when you take on the Church of God. Others have tried and have bitten the dust. - Bishop Desmond Tutu. (Speech, April 1987) Ayatollah Khomeini will one day be viewed as some kind of a saint. Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand . . . the passages that bother me are those I do understand. Every burned book enlightens the world. "The way he (George Bernard Shaw) believes in himself is very refreshing in these atheistic days when so many believe in no God at all." Cleanliness is almost as bad as godliness.

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Cleanliness is next to impossible. Hell is paved with good intentions. All men mean well. Nature never did betray the heart that loved her. It's a great kindness to trust people with a secret. They feel so important while telling it. Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. We are the people our parents warned us about. My friends! There are no friends. He who always finds fault with his friends has faulty friends. Friendship is far more tragic than love. It lasts longer. Friends are thieves of time. A reconciled friend is a double enemy. An invitation to a wedding involves more trouble than a summons to a police court. With each friend you buy you get an enemy free. To find a friend one must close one eye; to keep him - two. Judge a man by his foes. Know a man by the company he avoids. The wise man is never less alone than when he is alone. Have no illusions, people do not think about you, but of what you are thinking about them. Vanity is the result of a delusion that someone is paying attention. You can say what you want to around home because no one pays any attention to you.

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All charming people have something to conceal, usually their total dependence on the appreciation of others. While each man loves himself more than anyone else, he sets less value on his own estimate than on the opinions of others. Most celebrated men live in a condition of prostitution. The big difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money usually costs less. Science increases our power in proportion as it lowers our pride. Man thinks he amounts to a great deal, but to a flea or a mosquito a human being is merely something good to eat. I hate babies . . . they're so human . . . they remind me of monkeys. The question is not whether man descended from the apes, but when he's going to quit descending. Who'd want to be an adult in this world? The normal, relaxed, welladjusted adult is constantly exhausting itself playing a thousand games 250 of these are spent in frantic pursuit of what it wants; another 250 are spent trying to avoid what it does not want; a further 250 involve elaborate justifications, trying to give the whole process some semblance of respectability; and the final 250 entail the efforts of trying to appear normal, relaxed, and well-adjusted. Chess is about as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you could find anywhere outside an advertising agency. You cannot kill time without injuring eternity. If children grew up according to early indications, we should have nothing but geniuses. There's a time when you have to explain to your children why they're born, and it's a marvelous thing if you know the reason by then. You know children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers. All children are in danger of eternal damnation in Hell.

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If a growing object is both fresh and spoiled at the same time, chances are it is a child. We're all born brave, trusting and greedy, and most of us remain greedy. The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents, and the second half by our children. The youth gets together materials for a bridge to the moon, and at length the middle-aged man decides to make a woodshed with them. By the time we arrive at middle age, we have settled on definite convictions, most of which are wrong. The young suffer less from their own mistakes than from the wisdom of the old. It never occurs to a boy of eighteen that he will some day be as dumb as his father. It must be a very weary day to the youth, when he first discovers that after all he will only become a man. I never dared be radical when young for fear it would make me conservative when old. I am sick of society. I need solitude, isolation. My feelings are dried up, and I am bored with public display. I am tired of glory at twenty-nine; it has lost its charm; and there is nothing left for me but complete egotism. Napoleon After thirty, a man wakes up sad every morning excepting perhaps five or six, until the day of his death. At thirty a man suspects himself a fool - at forty he knows it. Every man over forty is a scoundrel. People quiet down as they grow older, probably because they have more to be quiet about. It is so many years before one can believe enough in what one feels, even to know what the feeling is.

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As soon as people are old enough to know better, they don't know anything at all. Next to the very young, the very old are the most selfish. Only the young die good. We grow with years more fragile in body, but morally stouter, and can throw off the chill of a bad conscience almost at once. Talking is a disease of age. Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man. When you are over the hill, you pick up speed. We are always happy in spring, but still there is a certain sadness. It looks as if everything were coming back except us. It is a man's fate to keep growing older long after he is old enough. The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young. Few persons despair of the human race after looking in the mirror. A man must have grown old - lived long in order to see how short life is. The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom. At twenty we don't care what the world thinks of us; at thirty we wonder what it thinks of us; at forty we discover it doesn't think of us at all. At twenty a man is a peacock, at thirty a lion, at forty a camel; at fifty a serpent, at sixty a dog, at seventy an ape, at eighty nothing at all. May you live all the days of your life. Where are you dying tonight? Television is immortality - for it is impossible to die in front of one, isn't it? The money men make lives after them. Last will and testament: a pathetic attempt at immortality.

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Many men on the point of an edifying death would be furious if they were suddenly restored to health. Reading the epitaphs, our only salvation lies in resurrecting the dead and burying the living. The tombstones of a great many people should say: Died at thirty, buried at sixty. No wise man ever wished to be younger. What is time but the stuff delay is made of? I am my own ancestor. It is not true that life is one damn thing after another: it's one damn thing over and over. This life is a test. It is only a test. Had this been an actual life, you would have received further instructions as to what to do and where to go. Today is the last day of your life so far. The American mind, unlike the English, is not formed by books, but by newspapers and the Bible. There is nothing the matter with Americans except their ideals. America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between. The Irish are a fair people; they never speak well of one another. Next to death, the most infallible cure for a guilty conscience is success. Nothing fails like success. Nothing succeeds like failure. Successful and fortunate crime is called virtue. Success in almost any field depends more on energy, drive and persistence than it does on intelligence. This explains why we have so many stupid leaders.

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Confidence is the feeling you sometimes have before you fully understand the situation. Nothing makes you as sure of yourself as ignorance. Confidence is the feeling you have before you know what you are talking about. The mind of a confidence man is like a flash of lightning - swift and crooked. Life is not so bad, if you have plenty of luck, and a good physique, and not too much imagination. When the people applauded wildly, Diogenes turned to one of his friends and said "Have I said something foolish?" Diogenes struck the father when the son swore. A practical man is a man who practices the errors of his forefathers. Men are conservative after dinner. Cause and effect are two sides of one fact. All generalizations are dangerous, even this one. Criticism is never inhibited by ignorance. In judging others people will work overtime for no pay. Each generation of critics does nothing but take the opposite of the truths accepted by their predecessors. The lot of critics is to be remembered by what they failed to understand. One gets tired of the role critics are supposed to have in this culture. It's like being the piano player in a whorehouse, you don't have any control over the action going on upstairs. I am long on ideas, but short on time. I expect to live to be only about a hundred. The place where optimism most flourishes is in the lunatic asylum. Every silver lining has a cloud around it.

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Mistakes are often the stepping stones to utter failure. A casual stroll through a lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. Where there's a will there's a why. Doubt makes the mountain for faith to move. The first myth of management is that it exists. UFO's are for real: the Air Force doesn't exist. Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum -- "I think that I think, therefore I think that I am." Predestination was doomed from the start. Hell hath no fury like an unjustified assumption. Dangerous exercise - jumping to conclusions. The most dangerous thing in the world is to try to leap a chasm in two jumps. Only the poor are forbidden to beg. A rich man and his daughter are soon parted. Appearance is an important factor in earning money, and vice versa. Time is money if you are willing to sell your life. I cannot afford to waste my time making money. To be clever enough to make a lot of money, one must be stupid enough to want it. Money costs too much. The grass next door may look greener, but it's just as hard to mow. The heart contracts as the pocket expands. What difference does it make how much you have? What you do not have amounts to much more.

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The wretchedness of being rich is that you live with rich people. A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone. In this world it is not what we take up, but what we give up that makes us rich. There are no dollar signs on tombstones. No man ever said on his deathbed: "I wish I had spent more time on my business." Money is the fruit of evil as often as the root of it. The love of money grows as the money itself grows. Nobody has money who ought to have it. God shows his contempt for wealth by the kind person he selects to receive it. It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. Most people sell their souls and live with a good conscience on the proceeds. It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions makes it impossible to earn a living. The poor live the most independent lives of any. Many people have character who have nothing else. When one burns one's bridges, what a very nice fire it makes. Confound these ancestors . . . They've stolen our best ideas! Originality is undetected plagiarism. Plagiarism is sometimes unrecognized originality. Taking something from one man and making it worse is plagiarism. Everything has been thought of before; the problem is to think of it again.

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I hold it a noble task to rescue from oblivion those who deserve to be eternally remembered. The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see. Sometimes you can tell by watching a person what kind of a past he is going to have. Disobedience in the eyes of any one who has read history is man's original virtue. History warns us that it is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions. History may be divided into events which do not matter and events which probably never happened. The historian is a prophet looking backwards. All history is the propaganda of the victorious. Every man of us has all the centuries in him. The meek shall inherit the earth -- they are too weak to refuse. What is evil? - Whatever springs from weakness. No man is clever enough to know all the evil he does. There's only one thing that can continue to grow without nourishment: the human ego. He is as good as his word - and his word is no good. Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on too long. The human race will die of civilization. Civilization is a good idea - somebody ought to start it. The man who lives by himself and for himself is apt to be corrupted by the company he keeps. I have no relish for the country, it is a kind of healthy grave.

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A thing of beauty is a great expense. The fellow who never makes a mistake takes his orders from someone who does. To err may be human, but to admit it isn't. Some people have such open minds that nothing stays in them long. The trouble with men who profess to have "open minds" is that nothing seems to take advantage of the openings. There is a difference between an open mind and a hole in the head. It is a pity that people travel in foreign countries; it narrows their minds so much. Many a man thinks he is broadening his mind when he is merely stretching his conscience. Broad-mindedness is the result of flattening high-mindedness out. I am an idealist: I don't know where I'm going but I'm on my way. Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week. George Bernard Shaw He who slings mud generally loses ground. You cannot humiliate a hog by throwing mud at him. I dislike arguments of any kind. They are always vulgar, and often convincing. He that hath ears to hear, let him stuff them with cotton. Quarrels would not last long if the fault were only on one side. The best way of answering a bad argument is to let it go on. If you are dealing with a fool, dictate, but never argue. It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.

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The surest sign that you have no brains is to argue with one who hasn't. The man who listens to reason is usually thinking of some way to refute it. If someone says they agree with you in principle, it means they haven't the slightest intention of putting it into practice. A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular. So far as a man thinks, he is free. The only man who is really free is the one who can turn down an invitation to dinner without giving any excuse. I must decline your invitation owing to a subsequent engagement. I beg your pardon, I didn't recognize you - I've changed a lot. Freedom produces jokes and jokes produce freedom. When humour is meant to be taken seriously, it's no joke. Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover about everybody's face but their own. Satire is often the reflection of a kind of moral nausea. Don't trust first impulses - they are always good. Few of us are brave enough for what we really know. Somebody's boring me . . . I think it's me. I am always embarrassed by compliments - I always feel that they have not said enough. Conceit causes more conversation than wit. Modesty died when clothes were born. Whoever blushes seems to be good. Whoever blushes is already guilty; true innocence is ashamed of nothing. It is better for a young man to blush than to turn pale. Better a blush on a face than a blot on the heart.

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Blush: a weakness of youth and an accomplishment of experience. Women rouge that they may not blush. Flattery is obnoxious to all except the flattered. Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes. Many a good face Under a ragged hat. Every generation laughs at the old fashions but follows religiously the new. Efficiency is a highly developed form of laziness. Never learn to do anything. If you don't you'll always find someone else to do it for you. What is worth doing is worth the trouble of asking somebody to do it. I have found some of the best reasons I ever had for remaining at the bottom simply by looking at the men at the top. Life is like smoking dope - the more you suck the higher you get. A lot of men think that if they smile for a second, somebody will take advantage of them, and they are right. Don't believe that worry doesn't do any good. The things we worry about don't happen. It is better to have loafed and lost than never to have loafed at all. Early to bed and early to rise and you'll meet very few of our best people. Early to rise and early to bed makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. It may make a difference to all eternity whether we do right or wrong today. Never do today what you can do tomorrow. Something may occur to make you regret your premature action. It is well to put off until tomorrow what you ought not to do at all.

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Ours is a world where people don't know what they want and are willing to go through hell to get it. There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. Invention is the mother of necessity. Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o' clock is a scoundrel. The worm was punished for early rising. Nothing helps a person's complexion like putting it to bed before 2.30 A.M. The sure way of knowing nothing about life is to try and make oneself useful. A man who is very busy seldom changes his opinions. The line is often busy when your conscience tries to speak. My duty is a thing I never do, on principle. When a man claims that he is working toward the betterment of humanity - and humanity agrees - you can be sure he is not. Many a man works hard and saves money so that his sons won't have the disadvantages that made a man of their father. Work is the curse of the drinking classes. If you are good, you'll be assigned all the work. If you are really good, you'll get out of doing it. You can tell some people aren't afraid of work by the way they fight it. It is, no doubt, an immense advantage to have done nothing, but one should not abuse it. Many a man holds both day and night jobs so he can drive from one to the other in a more expensive car. Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do with their time.

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Work is a form of nervousness. I do not like work even when another person is doing it. The lazy man gets round the sun as quickly as the busy one. Industry is the root of all ugliness. A man is known by the company that keeps him. Nobody enjoys idleness unless they've plenty of work to do. A man must dream a long time in order to act with grandeur; and dreaming is done in darkness. The one person who has more illusions than the dreamer is the man of action. Action is the last resource of those who know not how to dream. People who like to be referred to as dreamers are too often merely sleepers. Avoid Quiet and Placid persons unless you are in Need of Sleep. Actions lie louder than words. Every great action is extreme. However brilliant an action may be, it should not accounted great when it is not the result of great purpose. One will seldom go wrong if one attributes extreme actions to vanity . . . Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought. The only man who can change his mind is a man that's got one. Many a man fails to become a thinker for the sole reason that his memory is too good. People with good memories seldom remember anything worth remembering. Everyone complains of his memory, but no one complains of his judgement.

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Light travels inconceivably fast until it encounters the human mind. You can make the average man mad by referring to him as the average man. Little minds are interested in the extraordinary; great minds in the commonplace. To be rational is so glorious a thing that two-legged creatures generally content themselves with the title. Emotion has taught mankind to reason. My reason is not framed to bend or stoop; my knees are. All truth, in the long run, is only common sense clarified. It is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible. Those who see any difference between soul and body have neither. If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out. If you tell the truth once, no one will ever believe you again, no matter how much you lie. I have suffered from being misunderstood, but I would have suffered a hell of a lot more if I had been understood. If you want to be thought a liar always tell the truth. I never could tell a lie that anybody would doubt, nor a truth that anybody would believe. My desire, without any wish to make anybody's hair stand on end or flesh creep, is to call a spade a spade. An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all. Nobody minds a clever man, as long as he does not impart his cleverness to others.

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If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find something in them to hang him. Anyone who has begun to think places some portion of the world in jeopardy. Take care that no one hates you justly. I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unreasonable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect. There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true. All thought is immoral. Nothing survives being thought of. It is much easier to recognize error than to find truth; for error lies on the surface and may be overcome; but truth lies in the depths, and to search for it is not given to everyone. The terrible thing about the quest for truth is that you find it. Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. They who know _the truth_ are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it. A truth ceases to be true when more than one person believes in it. You need not tell all the truth, unless to those who have a right to know it. But let all you tell be truth. A half-truth is seldom the better half. Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied upon in a newspaper. My way of joking is to tell the truth; it's the funniest joke in the world. When a thing is funny, search it for a hidden truth. If you always speak the truth you don't have to remember anything. A little truth helps the lie go down. Much truth is spoken, that more may be concealed.

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Two wrongs don't make a right, but three do. I never lied save to shield a woman - or myself. The exact contrary of what is generally believed is often the truth. A conclusion is the place where you get tired of thinking. Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true. Nothing is so firmly believed as what we least know. There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who sees both sides of a question is a man who sees absolutely nothing. Irrationally held truths are more harmful than reasoned errors. Ignorance is preferable to error and he is less remote from truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is false. There is no possible source of evil except good. To have no morals at all is better than to have bad ones. Every man has a right to be wrong in his opinions. But no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. It is one thing to wish to have truth on our side, and another to wish sincerely to be on the side of truth. Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained. If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins. Most people who flee from temptation usually leave a forwarding address. The trouble with resisting temptation is it may never come again. The follies which a man most regrets in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. Better murder an infant in its cradle than nurse an unacted desire.

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A good time is often a bad time held up. Pleasures are like flowers: they die when gathered. Simple pleasures are the last refuge of the complex. Smiles form the channels of a future tear. Life would be tolerable but for its amusements. A metaphor is something you shout. The moment you have a plan you cease to be a revolutionary. I have yet to see a problem, however complicated, which, when you look at it in the right way, did not become more complicated. Socialism is the capitalism of the lower classes. Any fool can tell the truth, but it requires some sense to tell a lie well. If computers get too powerful we can always organize them into a committee. No poet ever interpreted Nature as freely as a lawyer interprets truth. For most, life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises. Thought is never thrown away: wherever it falls, or runs, or rests, it fertilizes. The purest water runs from the hardest rock. Neither worth nor wisdom come without effort. No two things in Nature have less affinity than violence and reflection. The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history. Great men too often have greater faults than little men can find room for. The superior man is distressed by his want of ability.

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The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. Great minds discuss ideas; small ones, people. A wise man knows everything; a shrewd one, everybody. Great men grow tired of contentedness. Few great men could pass Personnel. If you are afraid of being lonely, don't try to be right. If you can speak what you will never hear, if you can write what you will never read, you have done rare things. Great men are rarely isolated mountain peaks; they are the summits of ranges. To do an evil act is base. To do a good one without incurring danger, is common enough. But it is part of a good man to do great and noble deeds though he risks everything in doing them. You can't cheat an honest man. I have solved practically all the pressing questions of our time, but they keep on being propounded as insoluble, just as if I never existed. I have nothing to declare except my genius. (Oscar Wilde's response to an American customs official) Genius is born, not paid. Genius borrows nobly. Genius is an infinite capacity for giving pains. Great geniuses have the shortest biographies. Their cousins can tell you nothing about them. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.

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To do easily what is difficult for others is the mark of talent. To do what is impossible for talent is the mark of genius. Genius learns from nature, its own nature. Talent learns from art. Talent is an infinite capacity for imitating genius. If you think the world is against you - it doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't. A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us. Those who never philosophised until they met with disappointments, have mostly become disappointed philosophers. The sun is shining all around, but there are some who will only contemplate their own shadow. Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities. In our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either. What governs men is the fear of truth. Children are afraid of being left in the dark; men are afraid of not being left in it. If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you. If you really make them think, they'll hate you. I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. When one burns one's bridges, what a very nice fire it makes. The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. It is a fine thing to be honest, but it is also very important to be right.

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Judge men not by their opinions, but by what their opinions have made them. I wish I could stand on a busy corner, hat in hand, and beg people to throw me all their wasted hours. Self-love seems so often unrequited. I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle. The worst thing about war is that it seldom kills off the right people. A nation is only at peace if it's at war. All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means. Every vice was once a virtue, and may become respectable again, just as hatred becomes respectable in wartime. The morals of today are the immorals of yesterday, the creeds of tomorrow. The question is whether anyone has ever been in any serious way, not sane. I have examined the history of the human race with care. Kant gives the impression that he liked the inconcievable, but his books were too long; Einstein was interested in the Universe, but was bad at psychology; H.G Wells saw that research consisted of taking risks, but declined into sociology. My best candidates, therefore, are Nietzsche and Christ. It may be objected that their ideas cannot possibly be of interest, since one went mad and the other was crucified. However, I think we should not hold this against them: they may have felt a trifle isolated. The most distinctive expression of Nietzsche's thought is contained in "Thus spake Zarathustra", and in the first few pages of it at that. Nietzsche sometimes confused his psychological ideas with social or political ones, particularly in books other than Zarathustra. This kind of mistake is easily made by a person who has been brought up in a sane world. "Love thy neighbour as thyself": In fact, everyone _does_ love their neighbour as themselves. They desire that he shall accept second-best as they have done; that he, too, shall be made to realize his limitations and "come to terms with himself". The human race is so megalomaniac; they think you're being conceited if you say you're better than everybody else.

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A human relationship is what happens when you know you can rely on the other person to be as dishonest as you are. The object of the educational system is to make the child feel guilty for the harm that has been done to him. I decided to postulate infinitely many dimensions on grounds of economy of hypotheses. The human race's favourite method for being in control of the facts is to ignore them. The human race knows enough about thinking to prevent it. The human race expresses great concern that everyone should express their abilities to the full, and never more so than when those abilities are non-existent. One of the greatest superstitions of our time is the belief that it has none. Science arose by accident in the brief space when one great orthodoxy was loosening its hold and the new great orthodoxy had not yet reached its full strength. The first orthodoxy was that of religion which dominated the dark ages. The second orthodoxy is that of the belief in society, which is dominating the dark age now beginning. Earning a living is regarded as moral. This is because a person who is answerable only to himself may or may not be wasting his time; an employed person is certain to be. Job satisfaction consists of knowing that you are not actually doing anything to increase any one elses freedom. It cannot be said that the movement known as the Women's Liberation shows any real recognition of the conditions actually necessary for any sort of genuinely intellectual activity. What appears to be the issue is that it is recognized that the position of man has not, in the changing social situation, deteriorated as radically as that of woman, and the solution envisaged appears to be to see that it does. The women concerned appear determined to demonstrate as thoroughly as possible their identification with precisely those psychological attitudes which have always prevented women from achieving anything. Women are the last people to be trusted with children. Those who have repressed their own aspirations will scarcely be tolerant of the aspirations of others.

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Marriage: there are less painful ways to commit suicide. Men are children at heart and women are not. Women abandoned themselves to society. Women are like sane people in general - you can't imagine how they can bear to be like it but the last thing they want is to be told how to stop. Only the impossible is worth attempting. One is sure to fail at anything else. The object of modern science is to make all aspects of reality equally boring, so that no one will be tempted to think about them. If you stand up to the human race you lose something called their "goodwill"; if you kowtow to them you gain . . . their permission to continue kowtowing. Society expresses its sympathy for the geniuses of the past to distract attention from the fact that it has no intention of being sympathetic to the geniuses of the present. Equality: It is easier to make people appear equally stupid than to make them appear equally clever. Democracy: everyone should have an equal opportunity to obstruct everybody else. In an autocracy, one person has his way; in an aristocracy, a few people have their way; in a democracy, no one has his way. With communism you can indulge your desire for power over other peoples' lives more directly than if you became a witch doctor or a social worker. What is unacceptable about capitalism is that it makes it possible for some people, sometimes, to do things that the collective does not want done. I cannot write long books; I leave that for those people who have nothing to say. Humility means (to the human race) to desire only what you can easily have. Society, they say, exists to safeguard the rights of the individual. If this is so, the primary right of a human being is evidently to live unrealistically.

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World Problems = Too Many People. In the world there is nothing but prose and dishonesty. Beauty is in the blindness of the believer. Nowadays we live lives of length and quality but no value. If a book is worth reading, it is worth buying. Quoting oneself is a sign of supreme humility. I write in quotes. You can quote me on that. I write for writers. If my words do not inspire my reader to bring his thoughts to life on paper, then I am no writer. The thinker writes with his blood, The poet with his tears, Women with their lipstick, And academics with their bile. It is an easy thing to be a great writer, if you simply write the truth regardless of what anybody thinks - the truth everyone had once suspected but had been persuaded by society to look the other way. The more you write, the more material you provide others to disregard you with. If you must write a lot, at least do it in small and dangerous bits that are hard to domesticate. I would rather it were asked how I did not get published than how I did. Writing is a lot like computer programming; grammar is the syntax, paragraphs are procedures, and the compiler is the human brain. Some write for publication, while others want to write something worth reading. I doubt the value of my having a book published because of the many grubby hands it will have to pass through before it reaches a worthy reader. To get published these days you need to be a salesman, not a writer. I do not particularly want to write more than aphorisms - not if just to show that I really mean them. My greatest joy is bringing the immortals back to life.

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It is my aim in life to say things I will never hear. Good prose is only aphorisms joined end to end. One word can say more than a thousand pictures. Words often mean more when one doesn't know who wrote them: one suspects they may have come from God. Too much polishing weakens a work. A few rough edges are needed to gain a purchase in the human mind. There is a threshold quality and number of aphorisms at which point they become wisecracks. If a person calls himself an aphorist one suspects he is more interested in composing witty sentences than thinking about the meaning of them. Aphorisms are malicious. To effect a change of heart requires love also. The fault of aphorisms is that they often don't have any more to say. Half of all epigrams exaggerate, and this is one of them. No one can ever defeat me in argument because I stick to a subject they know nothing about - the truth. And I don't get led into and bogged-down by irrelevancies. People avoid the truth to give themselves something to do. People prefer the hell of hell itself to the hell of boredom. If you want to know human nature at its lowest and worst, get to know it when it's on holiday. The advantage of concentrating on the effectiveness of one's speaking voice is that one cannot at the same time concentrate on the truth of what one is saying. It is difficult to think deeply once you are renowned as a deep thinker unless you are as deep as space. Irrationality is the larger part of our inhumanity. New Slogan: "Truth is valuable".

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A statement which reminds me of feminine logic: "Life is a continuum which begins at conception." A rational reason is a reason that agrees with reason. There is only one thing more intellectually frightening than watching a sick and violent movie, and that's watching the rapture on the faces of the people watching it. The heart is wiser than the intellect - says the heart. The way to a man's heart is through his ignorance. A gentleman is a man who will not squeeze a girl's hand unless he is prepared to marry her. If there's one thing more daring than reading in public it's writing in public. It is often undignified to die with dignity - too often cowardly and deceptive. Cowardice and deception are a cruel legacy. Parents would rather their son be a salesman than a saint. I can never seem to stop plagiarizing myself and being unoriginal. When I write down an idea I shamelessly copy it out of my mind, which has already had the idea! . . . I seem to be a parasite off the past. Others often better express myself. I have been accused of having too much imagination because I think of consequences. Essentials for wisdom: Nothing to do, no one to love, and nothing to hope for. It is dangerous to think you know everything if you are deceiving yourself. It is easy to be liked if you do not continually speak magnificent truths that everybody hates. It is easier to imagine a person is great if their behaviour does not continually remind you that you are not. Most people find it impossible to understand a valid argument.

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A cup of tea gives a wise man time to think and a fool something warm to put in his mouth. Tea drinkers often measure their lives with tea spoons. A man should avoid tea, women, and all other slop-kettle. Small pleasures exclude great ones. The fact that a man dies does not prove that he lives. To shave is a perpetual reminder that you are a slave. I don't mow lawns for the reason that I don't shave. People will only stay alive if they have something important to live for like their birthday. You will only see the animal side of a person after knowing them for about five seconds. It seems so calculating to remember a person's name the first or second time one hears it. A badly dressed person may or may not be a bum, but a well dressed person is surely bad. The way people dress reflects what they think, and it nearly always reflects nothing at all. If a person cares for their appearance it means they are a manipulative coward. In other words, a respectable citizen well worth knowing, just like us. I heard a young journalist say: "It is difficult to judge what is newsworthy because it is hard to determine what the public regards as news." One is not afraid of dying tonight, but of growing old without having achieved one's goals. Society has declined to such a degree that nowadays very few people doze-off at inopportune times. Anyone who thinks there is some good in everyone certainly hasn't met everyone, and probably doesn't know anyone very well.

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Many Christians are astounded to learn that some people still believe in evolution. The only evidence against evolution are its opponents. To argue with a Christian is like sparring with a dead sheep. The practice of honesty is more convincing than the practice of religion. There are thousands of contradictory religions; at least one of them must be wrong. There is nothing more futile than debunking religion, the reason being that religion is not upheld because it is true, but because it is thought to be useful. The only good thing to be learnt from religion is not to be so gullible. If you know which writings are authentic Scripture and which are not, then you know enough to write Scripture yourself. Goodness plus ignorance makes one Devil. For every million who can raise the dead there's not one who knows the truth. The road to Hell is paved with Bibles. Even God doesn't have free will. God may forgive you your sins, but destiny will not. The only certain proof of the existence of God is a personal experience of Him - provided one can be sure He is not the Devil in disguise. God is a pauper: He has nothing to believe in - no higher power - nothing. God in Heaven is irreligious, without faith, and . . . shame upon shame . . . does whatever He pleases. To spell the word "Devil" with a lower case "d" is to underestimate Him, giving the impression that God cannot help but win, which leads to a fatal complacency. It is said: "Even the Devil can quote Scripture." I tell you, even the Devil can write Scripture!

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The best thing about Christians is that they're not serious about their religion, unlike Muslims. The inside of a church or temple smells of dying souls - the incense of ignorance. Christian humility: "It is not me who is saying this is true, but God. I only claim to know that God said it, and that He was right." Priests are living proof that women should never be allowed to enter the clergy. The monks are smiling. The Dharma is dying. According to the Pope a woman can become a saint but not a priest. You have a fiend in Jesus. As thick as . . . a theologian. I am certain there is no life after death because I have experienced it. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith in the value of truth. Music appears the most innocent of passions, but no passion goes unpunished. Masturbation is bad because it is a pleasure that is not shared with others. Marriage is bad because it too is a pleasure that is not shared with others. One's very own self is bad if it is not shared with all others. All dogmatism is sinful. Personal opinions are worth nothing, that's my personal opinion. There is absolutely no absolute truth. I despise judgemental people. There's no hope for them. The difference between a real philosopher and a fake is that the fake has a wisp of hair neatly combed over his bald crown as if to cover it, while the real philosopher's wisp of hair is in disarray. The more a wise man makes you laugh, and the more he cautions you to doubt him, the more suspicious you should be.

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Blessed is he who has made it through University without being made a fool of. A man is honest who reads the books he himself wrote in order to learn from someone who is more wise than himself. We no longer read the great books of the past because it appears uncreative. The thing I hate most about Americans is that ninety percent of them believe in God. Sport is a great leveller, but then so is death. Compliments are more readily believed when they are unbelievable. An element of truth in a compliment would tend to arouse feelings of guilt concerning the stretching the truth. No man is scared of truth who never really hears it, never makes it a part of himself, never speaks it or promotes it in the world. The Devil Himself is unafraid of truth. Clearly it is not enough to be unafraid of truth - one must be disgusted with untruth. One who is only lukewarm in his feelings towards untruth has no love of truth, and is no friend of God. The one thing out of place in any argument is reason: it is considered unrealistic. To use reason against an opponent is a bit like trying to exhume a body from the grave with a hail of bullets. Your opponent will be totally unaware you are trying to help him. If you can't live by philosophy alone, then die by it. People say I have a philosophy of negation, but how can I negate what does not exist? Things exist, they're just not there. Science is 10,000 years behind philosophy. Theology is 10,000 years behind that. No one ever thought to give awards for wisdom, which is a great relief. The enlightened people of the New Age love EVERYTHING, even lies.

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It is impossible not to tell the occasional lie once you conform to a normal social life . . . you feel that one more lie on top of a veritable mountain of lies will not make any difference. It is unreasonable to try to reason with unreasonable people. I hate people calling me wise, for when I hear that word I am forced to consider truth, my wisdom returns, and my pride vanishes. Whoever said that imagination was strongest in youth? I have found that imagination is most strong in the elderly, who have the most to forget. The true man is harsh because honesty is harsh. He doesn't see any reason for softness, because softness is mendacious. Fallacy will get you everywhere. Truth may kill a man, but he dies with dignity. And if the human race goes extinct, let it be for truth and not for the cowardice of ignorance. When I was a boy of fourteen my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand him. It was only when I turned twenty-one that I realized how astonishingly wise I was even back then. My mind possesses only a fraction of one percent of all possible knowledge, but that fraction includes everything that can ever be known about God and life. Those who have the mental clarity to see things from other people's point of view are invariably accomplished manipulators. Nowadays a child is brought-up by everyone except his parents. These days children bring up parents. When you reach the age of thirty you will have forfeited the chance to make yourself into a person worth listening to - but now at last people will listen to you. If you go against the grain when young the grain will go against you when old. A socialist is someone who wants a slice of another person's excessive wealth. A conservative is an excessively wealthy person who doesn't want to share.

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Am I a capitalist if I want to increase the intellectual and spiritual capital of mankind? That which a person doesn't believe in enough to write in prose can be comfortably written in poetry. The reason being that poets are not held responsible for what they write and are not taken seriously, so there is no risk. Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason before reason has done enough damage. The trouble with poetry that rhymes is that the rhyme often dictates the meaning of the poem, or the lack of meaning more usually. In a shameless person the writing of aphorisms can descend to the depths of poetry writing, where the words suggest themselves at least as much as does the idea behind them, and so create a new idea, which is not a genuine idea. A good writer is one whose thought develops his writing. A bad writer is one whose writing develops his thought. He who speaks longest goes furthest in this world. He who asks questions excludes himself from the conversation. A good conversation is one where you either say or hear something worth remembering. Longevity: My body may not live long, but I will live no less than a thousand years. Egotism is one substance with two faces - love and hatred. If you understand that people do not care about the survival of the human race it is more easy to understand why they behave the way they do. I am too wise to be a sage. All pleasures cost at least the time they take. That which is best for peoples' happiness is rarely what is best for their minds. You can't listen to anyone younger than thirty. You can't reason with anyone older than twenty-five.

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If you're going to become a monk You may as well get married. Better unhappy and joyful Than happy and miserable. I'm not happy to want to be happy. Clear of conscience, clear of thought. Combed hair despair; Clean clothes on the nose. Two kinds of people do not blink - madmen and gods. It is not hard to foretell wars and famines. It is impossible to stop them. There would be no war if there were no history. The only way to stop a war is to outlaw the truth. Peace wets the appetite of war. A book can get inside your mind and heart far better than any friend, so take more care in choosing your books than your friends. All people over thirty are the same mental age. Nobody wishes to grow older than thirty - the age at which you begin to unlearn faster than you learn. Time heals nothing. Nobody is intellectually honest. Sometimes people are emotionally honest, the only problem being that emotions can never be honest. Wit is an infinite capacity for wit. Anything said in a short sentence sounds wise. Everyone has free will, but some have more than others. The older one gets, the more one is allowed to over-act. The elderly are excused for giving-up the fight for dignity. Australians cut down tall poppies, which makes them almost as fairminded as the Irish. There is no such thing as a pessimist. One has to have an incredibly positive attitude to see the negative in everything.

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Positive thinking is the triumph of negative forces. I find that round shoulders often make a person seem taller, while those who stand tall seem small. Confidence is the feeling you have before you know what you are setting into motion. Money gives one the freedom to take holidays one wouldn't need if one didn't have money. If time is money then the less you work the more wealthy you are. What you do with your life determines what you will be as a person. This is why I do not work. If I worked as much as others I would do as little as they. You can never know how lazy you really are till you stop working. Being on the dole is as dark as being in work, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. A man who has a million dollars feels as well off as if he were not a fool. Some people gather a lot of money thinking it will make them worth more. One should not seek to be of value to society any more than one would wish to be popular with a fool. If I was appreciated along with other men I would depreciate myself. The danger of success is . . . it is not. The danger in being valued by society is that it might lead you to think that you are contributing to it. Busy people think that a busy life is the nearest thing to a purposeful life. Nobody wants to take responsibility for the survival of the human race because it would involve being unsociable. Beware being able to do many things well, but nothing that needs doing. One can be competent and successful without being clever. One can be competent, successful and very clever without being imaginative and

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original. One can be competent, successful, very clever, imaginative and original without being wise. But one cannot be wise without a courage that encompasses the Universe. To be a success in life all you need is confidence and ignorance. People go to a lot of trouble to create their problems and they don't appreciate you telling them a simple solution. Nobility is a value that doesn't exist if you don't think of it. One generally learns to express oneself well at the expense of knowledge and dignity. It's hell living in paradise. We realize we are in hell when we meet someone whose life is much happier and more beautiful than our own. For a young person to have radical ideas is endearing; for a middle aged person to have them is immoral. Some people choose to be right just for the sake of being different. A very clever man does not need to hide his cleverness. There are three kinds of lies: lies, truths, and statistics. That a lie cannot endure for ever is the classic example of a lie that endures forever. The perfectly wise never laugh, nor feel the need to laugh. But the imperfect must laugh if they will become perfect. Having said that, I am not convinced that anyone has, as yet, become perfect - I don't think we laugh seriously enough - not painfully enough. Humour only hurts when it strikes us as too true to be able to let out the whole of the laugh. It is not important whether you are remembered when you die, but rather that you have done something worth remembering. People no longer study for self improvement. Tell me what you believe and I'll tell you where you're going wrong. A bad man is judged innocent until proven guilty, and a saint is judged guilty, guilty, guilty.

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We make more enemies by what we say than friends by what we do. Therefore wise men say much, be it in few words, while fools say little, very cautiously, and at great length. If one wishes to think for a few hours of each day, one must use the remaining hours to rest-up in preparation. I haven't read much, but what I have read I've read a lot. Advice to spiritual men: Before you traipse off to help and encourage some wise-looking girl, consider first whether there is not some man close by of still more potential, but of less appeal. Pretending to be extremely poor when you are actually very rich is called hypocrisy. It is also hypocrisy to pretend to be evil when you are a saint. Cosmetics are dehumanizing. They make us look and smell cosmetic. It is a consolation for any person to know that if he were attractive he would be liked as much as other people. Everybody who is incapable of teaching has taken up learning. Freedom from desire is usually but an avoidance of temptation. Stop short of the absolute and the times of greatest hope are the best you can hope for.

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